Do Not Wish Me A Happy Father’s Day
Words: Nefertiti Austin
Save the cards and holiday wishes for an actual father, says a mater mea contributing writer.
Dear Men Folk,
Do not call, text, or email me a smiley face with the caption: “Happy Father’s Day.” I get it. Some women declare themselves mother and father. If that works for them, great. As for me and my home, I am and will forever be mama, mommy, and mom. True, I wear multiple hats in my family: I’m head of household on my taxes and signatory on their medical and school paperwork. I’m cheerleader and nurturer, and I also don the black hat when necessary. But what parent doesn’t shuffle through various roles throughout the day?
Luckily I am not alone in my thinking. Chad Milner wrote a wonderful article in his Daddy Speaks column for MommyNoire entitled, “Should Single Moms Receive a Father’s Day Card?” Milner, a single father, writes that Hallmark’s Mahogany card dedicated to single mothers on Father’s Day sends the wrong message. I agree; even when there isn’t a man in the home, there are men around. It's up to women to use the men in their lives and allow their children opportunities to experience masculine energy. There is something to be learned from both sexes, without emasculating men on Father’s Day or forcing women to receive kudos on a role they are not 100% equipped.
The idea that a woman needs to be dad is a throwback
The idea that a woman needs to be a dad is a throwback to the strong black woman archetype. Some might say that I fit this description and I do—but that is not all there is to me. Like my married girlfriends, I need backup. I need someone to divide and conquer bills and activities. I need someone to take the wheel so I can take a nap or have a second glass of wine at dinner. I will win no awards trying to be mother and father and have no shame telling my 8-year old son that. The world does not need children growing up thinking that they have to be all things to everybody. Most women feel pressured to do it all, which leads to burnout and unhappiness for all involved. For when mama’s not happy, noooobody’s happy. When mother is defined as father, our femininity is cast aside and credence is given to the ridiculous notion that being a strong woman can only come from masculine characteristics: driven, aggressive, uncompromising, logical. Even when we possess all of these traits, we are not men.
I frequently see my married male friends driving in the carpool lane, washing dishes, cooking dinner, handling bath time, coaching, grocery shopping, hugging their kids, and taking away privileges. They perform these “feminine” duties because they need doing, plus the entire household is supported when the adult who has time steps up. Now their wives may have a back-story that I am not privy to. Regardless, I do not call them on Mother’s Day.
Likewise, there are things I can do but don’t want to do. For instance, I do not want to play catch in the backyard, but I do. I do not to want to have “the talk” about Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Ezell Ford, etc., but I have. I despise going to the barbershop and yet, I wait for the snap of the cape signaling that the Mohawk is tight. Oh and I do not understand the price difference between Rawlings and Nike cleats, but visit Big-5 several times per year in search of these and other items. When I am unable to perform said “man” functions, I use my Village phone to ask for help. No shame in my game. Surely, I am not the only parent, single or booed up, to lean on the Village.
On that note, let’s mount a campaign for a new holiday and call it Happy Village Day. That should cover everyone: godparents, cousins, brothers, sisters, friends, crossing guards, and anyone else who serves as an extra set of hands and eyes for your children.
In the meantime, enjoy your Father’s Day and I’ll look for your call, text, or email on Mother’s Day.
Nefertiti Austin is a college instructor in U.S. History and a certified PS-MAPP trainer who co-leads classes for adoptive and foster parents. She blogs about adoption at mommiejonesing.com, and is currently working on a memoir about adopting as a single woman of color. Austin lives with her children in Los Angeles.
Do you wish single moms a Happy Father's Day? Why or why not? Tell us in the comments.